Friday, August 24, 2007

Roller Skate Cake

The cake I made for my daughter's 11th birthday party today. From the New Cake Decorating Book I've relied on so many times. It's not quite the color scheme as the Betty Crocker original but chocolate icing and blue trim were my daughter's choices. It was also her idea to use the un-iced cupcakes as roller skate wheels rather than cookies for online skates, to accommodate a friend of hers who doesn't like icing. Overall, I was pleased. Now to get it to the roller rink undamaged.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Simon & Garfunkel Chicken

Worth the effort for a special occasion.
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut in halves longways
  • 1 cup butter
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Pound chicken breasts flat. Spread each piece with a teaspoon of butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with cheese and, starting at the narrowest end, roll up and secure with toothpick. Dredge in flour, then dip in egg and coat with crumbs. Melt the rest of the butter and add the spices. Put the chicken rolls in a casserole dish, pour herbed butter over chicken and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Pour wine over chicken and return to oven for 30 more minutes. Baste frequently with herbed butter/wine mixture.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Greek Lemon Roasted Potatoes

In Cyprus last year we had the most delicious oven-roasted potatoes, apparently the secret recipe of our hotel owner George's mother. I haven't been able to duplicate them yet but this recipe comes the closest so far. I made them this week for a friend on a gluten-free diet who just had a baby; my family loved them, too.
  • 4-5 pounds baking potatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon oregano, Greek if you can find it.
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Mix liquids and spices together. Place potatoes in roasting pan, pour oil and juice mixture over them, use hands to toss until coated. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, turn potatoes and bake for another 30 minutes until tender and brown. If they dry out, add some more water midway through baking.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Easy Chicken and Stuffing Casserole

Great when you want to prepare a fancy-looking dish quickly. Easy and delicious! Substitute low-fat soup and skim milk for the soup and sour cream to reduce the calories; you'll barely notice.
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 package Stove Top Stuffing
Mix studding with water and seasonings according to package directions. Place chicken in greased casserole dish. Mix soup and sour cream, pour over chicken. Top with stuffing. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Wedding mints

Not really a recipe, but a nostalgia post.
When I married in 1990, my maternal grandmother, then in her mid-70's, at my mom's request, made the mints for my wedding reception. Granny was not getting around very well in those days and I think she was a little surprised at being asked, but my mom wanted her to feel useful and, typical for Granny, she went all out; buying multiple molds, tinting them various colors and packing them carefully in Tupperware, cushioned with paper towels and sitting in a cooler atop a Ziploc bag of ice cubes for the 90-minute trip to Chattanooga from Rome. "I was afraid they'd melt in the hot car." They were beautiful and delicious, of course.
When she passed away three years later, the mint molds were one of the things I got from her house. A graduate school friend of mine was planning a wedding at the time and I think I made some for her shower. Since then, I've made them for several other weddings, mostly for church friends.
They're not that hard. Just buy the melting pellets: Wilton is the brand most craft stores carry, though I recently ordered Merckens brand from Confectionery House (along with a frog mold for my son's next Harry Potter birthday party, chocolate frogs and peppermint toads, anyone?). It's not "real" chocolate, but it works great and tastes fine. The "white candy" can be tinted with oil-based dyes, or you can buy ready-made colors. I prefer to flavor the white stuff with creme de menthe flavoring (use oil-based, not extracts) and the "dark cocoa" with peppermint oil. As one of my husband's aunts remarked, they "taste like you melted down Andes."
The salmon-colored (not peach, not pink, but salmon) ones I made tonight, pictured above, are for the wedding of an education student from UVA who has interned at our church the last couple of years. Color was achieved by about 2 parts peach pellets to one part red. I had a swatch of ribbon from the bridesmaids dress to guide me. Granny would approve, and I can picture her with a swatch of my own bridesmaids' pattern, matching her colors to my multicolored floral print. I doubt I'll resort to paper-towel packing in the Tupperware when I take them to the bride at church next Sunday, as I've learned over the years that mints really don't scratch each other in transit. But, with a predicted heat index of 105, I'll probably use the cooler and a Ziploc bag of ice. Wouldn't want them to melt in the hot car.
I hope they'll add as many sweet memories to the new bride's wedding as my Granny's added to mine.

Spinach Lasagna

A favorite of vegetarians at our church's annual lasagna dinner for the college students. To hold down the calories, I use fat-free ricotta and cottage cheeses. It's easy to double the recipe and make a batch to freeze.
  • 1 envelope spaghetti sauce mix
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 15.5 oz tomato sauce
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz cottage cheese
  • 2 10 oz. packages frozen spinach
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz. no-cook lasagna noddles
  • 12 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
Mix first four ingredients in saucepan, bring to boil. Thaw and drain spinach, mix with eggs, ricotta and cottage cheeses and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Put one cup tomato mixture in a greased lasagna pan. Layer half of noodles, spinach mixture, mozzarella, then tomato mixture. Repeat layers, then sprinkle with last of Parmesan cheese.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Black Bean Corn Quinoa Salad

A combination of a Cooking Light recipe and a quinoa salad recipe my mom clipped from the paper. If you've never tried quinoa (a wonderful and healthful South American grain), this is a great place to start. I initially tried the recipe because of its low-calorie nature, but have stuck with it for the taste. When I brought it to a church supper, several non-dieters asked for the recipe. With or without the quinoa, it's a high protein and great for a vegetarian meal. It's a flexible recipe; good with shredded chicken and tomatoes added.
  • 1 pound dried black beans.
  • 2 cans corn, drained
  • 2 sweet peppers (red, yellow or green)
  • 1 large vidalia onion
  • 1-2 cups cooked quinoa, optional
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 tbsp green salsa
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
Soak black beans overnight, then cook according to package directions. Drain and cool.
Chop onion and peppers, add to beans along with canned corn and quinoa.
Mix lime juice, olive oil and salsa with spices in jar, cover and shake until blended. Pour over salad and chill in refrigerator several hours or overnight.
Serve as a salad, stuffed into tomatoes or peppers, wrapped in tortillas or as a dip with chips.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

My Mom's Chocolate Satin Icing.

My mother clipped this recipe from The Chattanooga Times years ago; it's still in a notebook in her kitchen. She liked it so much, I don't remember her ever using another chocolate icing on cakes. It really is both delicious and beautiful. I don't know if it's coincidental or not, but every time I enter something in a fair with this icing, I bring home a ribbon.
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Melt butter and chocolate over low heat. Add beaten egg and stir vigorously. Stir in powdered sugar, beat with wire whisk or electric beater. Remove from heat, mix in vanilla and lemon juice, then beat with electric beater or wire whisk until thickened. Pour over cooled cake and allow to drip down sides. Great on layer cakes, bundt cakes and brownies.

Double Chip Pound Cake

Glazed with my mom's special chocolate icing, this cake won the 2007 Pound Cake Contest at the Albemarle County Fair. I combined a from-scratch recipe from a friend's grandmother with the German chocolate and chips from a mix-based cake recipe I got from my aunt and member of my moms' email list.
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 eggs*
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 bar German chocolate, grated
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
*Original recipe called for 4, contest requirements called for 6. I used 6 medium eggs with success.
Grease and flour Bundt cake or tube pan. Toss 1/4 cup flour with chocolate and butterscotch chips until coated. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix together remaining flour, baking powder, salt and grated chocolate. Slowly add to creamed mixture, stir just until blended. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into pan and bake at 325 degrees for 60 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool at least ½ hour in pan, then invert onto serving plate.